Lynn Davis first discovered the stately beauty of Disko Bay’s icebergs in 1986. The resulting series was a turning point in her oeuvre. With these inaugural landscapes, Davis defined a style characterized by a combination of the minimal and the monumental. Today, after having completed a cycle on the Twentieth Century’s architectural legacy, Davis returns to the timeless grandeur of the icebergs with a heightened sense of abstraction. As before, the current series resonates with pictorial references to icons of symbolism, such as Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead, as well as to certain currents of Northern Romanticism exemplified by the art of Caspar David Friedrich. This romantic aura however is now informed with a truly architectonic sensibility. A sharper, bolder light reveals the more consistently geometric forms and lines of the icebergs. It is the light of objectivity in its true esthetic sense: the art of revealing the object at hand in its quintessential and sovereign beauty.
All the photographs in the series are large-scale (ranging from 36 x 36 to 45 x 45 inches). Another remarkable feature is their meticulous toning, in gold and selenium, which is a hallmark of Davis’s hieratic style.
Lynn Davis (American, born 1944) received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1970. She then trained with Berenice Abbott in New York. Davis had her first exhibition in 1979 at the International Center of Photography (New York) alongside her close friend Robert Mapplethorpe. Her work underwent a dramatic shift after her first trip to Greenland in 1986 when she gave up the representation of the human form for the landscape. Setting herself in the grand tradition of nineteenth century landscape photography, and driven by a quasi encyclopedic desire to record the natural and architectural monuments of the world, Davis has since documented the pyramids of Egypt, the ancient architectural ruins of Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Italy, and of the Middle East (Israel, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Yemen), as well as mythical natural wonders, including the Grand Geyser in Yellowstone and Wave Rock in Australia. Davis’s exploration of the African continent (including Mali, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania, and a second look at Egypt) resulted in the solo show Africa held at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson in 1999. Selections of the African images appeared the same year in Wonders of the African World by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 1999 also saw the publication of Davis’s second monograph, the classic Monument, released by Arena Editions.
Davis’s photographs have been exhibited internationally and collected widely. Her work appears in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, and the J. Paul Getty Museum which held an exhibition of Davis’s prints in 1999. Davis has received several commissions from public and private institutions such as the Lannan Foundation – to work on an American project -, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, and the Nature Conservancy – to produce a photographic survey of the High Plateau of Utah.
Davis lives and works in New York.